Of Giraffes, Cats, Lovely Friends And Stashes

Gentle reader,

If you’re a friend of The Shy Lion on le Book du Face (that’s Frenchie for Facebook), you might have seen sneak peeks of some of the things I have to share with you today. But first I want to espouse the virtues of excellent friends and stash organization, both as separate entities and as a confluence of goodness.

My friend Kate (who blogs here) is properly awesome. She met me when I had just started knitting. I was so self-conscious of my knitting that at Stitch’n’Bitch, I would set up a barrier of books so no-one could watch me plod along and fumble about. Ever since then, she’s been a voice of encouragement and an all round lovely friend, and now, thanks in part to her, I consider myself somewhat of a “proper knitter”. Ooh la la!

In recent times – last weekend to be exact – she’s given me the gift of organization. You see, when I discovered Ravelry, my stash was already out of control, but how I longed to have my stash all photographed and cataloged in my Rav Notebook. I attempted a few times, but let me tell you, that mess was legit cray-to-the-azy! It was so overwhelming! I’d recently done some thinning out and I decided it was now or never.

Now, Kate is the kind of person who records how many kilometers of yarn she’s knitted up each year, and weighs her partial skeins on kitchen scales. Who better than her to whip my burgeoning, undocumented cache of yarn? So, she came over to my house this weekend passed and we did a stash blitz! Now, if you go to my Ravelry profile, you’ll see the picture of organized deliciousness! I still have my partial skeins to add, but that’s a synch compared to this massive start. Thanks, Kate! You’re properly awesome!

I made this little critter a while ago with the yarn left over from Robert’s bedsocks. I tried something different with the face and used mercerized thread for whiskers. I think it turned out pretty well! My new friend Kellie seemed to think so too, because she snapped it up before I even had a chance to list it on Etsy (which is why the pictures aren’t super great; I had to snap it quickly on my phone at the Crafternoon S’n’B).

This is Miranda the Giraffe! She’s a new experiment for me; I’ve never made something with four legs where I’ve made the legs and body seamlessly. She turned out pretty well, I think! The yarn was some Naturally Yoshie which was on sale at Clegs, so I picked up a few balls. It’s a wool/acrylic blend, and is really quite lovely for an inexpensive yarn. I like the mix of colors. Miranda is in the Etsy store now, so you can totally buy her and squish her and love her all for yourself!

How have some of your lovely friends helped you get over a massive crafty rut? 

Knit-Worthiness – or – Bedsocks For Buddies!

Gentle reader,

Within knitting circles, there’s a term you might hear thrown about: knit-worthy. Something I’m sure all crafters can relate to is the outside, non-crafty world not always understanding or appreciating just how much time, effort and thoughtfulness goes into the handmade treasures we make. Regardless of your skill or talent, if you sat down and made something, the product of that has an intrinsic joy and sincerity that store-bought things just don’t have. When a knitter refers to someone as being “knit-worthy” they’re essentially saying that this person gets it. Y’know? If you knit something for this person, they’d understand that you haven’t just given them a garment but rather you’ve taken your time, your thought, your love and the skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated since you first picked up a pair of needles (or hook, or loom, or paintbrush, or glue gun) and you’ve wrapped all this up in a little parcel just for them, and that this is a special bond between friends. Because, sadly, not everyone – no matter how much you love them or they love you – is knit-worthy.

Well, I’m super lucky because I have lots of knit-worthy people in my life. Some of them are by my side every day, like The Beard. Some of them I get to see every week, like my knitting friends. And some of them I don’t get to see very often at all, like my bestie Panda, or my dear friends Robert and Alfio.

Robert and Alf are those special kinds of friends that you can not see for ages and ages, and then when you do, rather than having grown further apart, it’s all the more exciting  to see them. And, because they’re such lovely, decent humans, and because Alf asked ever so nicely, I knit them a pair of bed socks each, and I just managed to scrape them in for winter.  They took a bunch of pictures for me too, so all the credit for these snaps go to them.

 

Enough of the mooshy stuff and down to bidniss! Here are Alf’s socks, which I’ve mentioned before on here. They’re made from Noro Kogarashi yarn which is rather luxurious. It’s 51% silk. Yumz. The pattern I used was Thuja by Bobby Ziegler which you can get for free from Knitty.com here. I really enjoyed the pattern. The combination of the yarn and the pattern soften the impact of the moss-stitch rib, but it gives enough interest while letting those lovely colors and squishy wispy bits take the spotlight. I was very pleased.

 

For Robert’s sock, I used Creative Fibers Hand Dyed yarn which is DIVINE. I loved it so much. You get it in a giant yummy hank and it smells delicious, though I’m not sure if that was the fiber or the dyes. The colors have to be seen in person because it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate idea of the colors from photographs. For the pattern, I took a risk and just made it up. I wanted to try doing an afterthought heel, and I think it turned out pretty neat.

 

Robert and Alf seem pretty happy with their socks, and I think they were pretty excited to get a parcel in the mail. I mean, who doesn’t? I love getting parcels.

I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of knitting socks and it was a long haul for me to finish both of these. Luckily, there were bed socks, so I got to use a heavier weight of yarn, but let me just tell you that Alf’s foot is massive and these socks felt like they were going to go on forever. But, I feel like I’ve reached a personal milestone now. I, Raynor the Shy Lion, can knit socks if I so choose.  Heel flap or afterthought heels. Hurrah! But, most of all, I love thinking of my two dear friends having toasty warm feet in the colder months. And that makes me properly happy.

Who are some of your favorite knit-worthy (or craft-worthy) peeps? Sharezies!

 

 

 

 

 

Spock Hat. Dunzo. Classes. I Haz ‘Em.

Gentle reader,

Are you peeps ready for some SRS BSNS!? (that’s excited text speak for ‘serious business’)

The Spock Hat is finished and photographed! Y’all should give your thanks to The Beard, because he’s been sick and he was on his way to work, but I pulled him outside and made him model it for me before I’d let him leave. “Enough’s enough!” I said to myself. “This needed to be done, like, months ago!”.

And so, I present you with an earflap beanie of the Spock variety. BLAM!

Also, get a load of The Beard’s beard! That’s impressive.

To do the ear detailing, I just did a surface slip stitch in a darker yarn. It turned out pretty well, I think.

“Live long and prosper.”

So Vulcan, so chic.

Well, that’s that done! Finally! I had intended to write the pattern as I made it, but at some point I realized I’d stopped making notes and it was all over. Oh well.

In some housekeeping news, I’ve added a section for my class dates! So, if you’re in la Bourne du Mel (that’s Frenchie for ‘Melbourne’) you can totally come sit with me and I’ll show you how to crochet! Fun times!

Just clicketty-clack in the handy-dandy nav bar, and you can sign yourself up for some crafty education. Hurray!

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever crafted!? Bonus points for posting pics on the Facebook page! ^_~

 

Instagram Catch-Up!

Gentle reader,

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to Instagram. If you’re a fellow addict, you can find me there as theshylion. But, the good thing about Instagram is that it keeps me snapping pics whenever I get the chance, which I can’t always do specifically for the blog. I’m just not gelling with my new camera, and I end up having to do way more post-processing that I usually do, and it doesn’t like low-light which isn’t helpful because I’m a night-owl. Eugh.

 

Anyway, I figured that to keep up with y’all and show you some sneaky peaks at some of the stuff I’ve been working on, I can do a little Instagram Catch-Up and share with you some of the little snaps I’ve taken along the way. So, here goes!

 

One of the first things you need to know before you follow me on Instagram is that I snap pics of these two brats a LOT. I’m a crazy cat man. I’m not even ashamed about it.

 

But, I also take pics of all my projects in varying stages of completions, like this sock. I’m a big fan of train knitting so that happens fairly often. (To the top left of the finished sock pic, you can see a bit of cat-butt. See!? I even snap them when I’m not even trying!) I just made this pattern up to test out doing afterthought heels. Pretty happy with the outcome!

 

I’ve been playing Civilization V on my iMac a lot lately since our consoles were stolen. Which is rarely a good idea on school nights because I may or may not have been up playing well into the wee hours of the morning on a few occasions. It’s a pretty epic game, y’all!

I’ve also had a voracious appetite for some delicious, shimmery pop so I haven’t strayed too far from my K-Pop and J-Pop playlists. This one features Meisa Kuroki, Crystal Kay, Perfume and Sophia (who are more rock, actually).

 

I made some fingerless mitts for my friend Seth! The pattern is “Swirling Gauntlets” by Susanna IC and I have to say, it was a super fun knit. I gave them to him before I could take decent pics, but I did snap a few on IG. I found that my cast on stitches for the thumb hole were a bit loose and messy even though I even did them on a smaller needle. I think next time I’ll just knit in waste yarn, rip it out later and bind off the live stitches with a stretchy bind-off.

 

I also take random shots while I’m out about. Here I am looking rather pleased because the weather finally allows me to rug up and wear scrummy warm things. My eyes are so beady! Oy. That fair isle hat – though you can’t see it very well here – is incredible, and it was made by friend Jen over at Little Yellow Cat. I’m somewhat obsessed with it. Then we have the lights of Melbourne! I’m completely enamored with good ol’ Melbs, and I’m loving the miserable, wet, cold weather. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

 

Here’s a sneaky peak of the Dartmore hat that I’ve been wrestling with. Well, I finally finished it and it’s in the post as we speak to my bestie, Panda! I miss her a lot, so I decided I’d send her a big ol’ care package stuffed with goodies including this hat. I sewed a little tag in the back so she can tell the front from the back easily, because there’s a slightly visible squiggle up the back where the rounds join. I’ll write more about it when she models it for me and sends me some pics.

But that’s all I have you for today! I have another project that I’m properly dying to share with you, but I need to get some decent pics.

But how have YOU been!? Sharezies!

 

Of Oz, Clogs and Linocut Prints!

Gentle reader,

When I finished high school in Australia, I went on student exchange to the US to do the last half of senior year all over again. Glutton for punishment, right? ^_~ Not really, it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life, and I met some of the most awesome peeps ever. And, I also got to learn how to do linocut prints! I wish for the life of me I could remember my art teacher’s name, she was so amazing, and I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember. But, that class was so amazing, and I learned more about art and craft in the six months than I did in the two years I took art at my Australian school.

Anyway, recently my super lovely friend, Amy (who blogs at Mildly Crafty, so you should give her some love!), gave me a whole bunch of linocut bits and bobs – all stored in a delightful old cardboard suitcase – and a book about different DIY printing processes. I already had some linocut stuff, but I hadn’t touched it in years so this got me all fired up about linocut all over again!

Amy’s Awesome Gifties.

I didn’t use the clean, new blocks that Amy gave me, because I wanted to save those for when I was more practiced, so I used some lino scraps I already had. The fabric paint didn’t work very well on my lino – it balled up and didn’t print very well – so I used the regular block ink that I already had. I can’t wait to do some fabric printing though!

My first carving went straight into the bin because I’d forgotten to mirror the letters so they printed the right way, but after that I did a Wizard of Oz print which came out really well! I was very happy with that one. Beginner’s luck. The next one I did was of the clogs. It’s somewhat of a tradition for bloggers to take pictures of their feet, I guess, which I’ve always thought was quite funny and cute. A bunch of the lovely ladies whose blogs and Instagrams I follow seem to love their clogs, so I asked GourmetGirlfriend if I could use one of her Instagrams as a reference and carved a tribute to bloggers who clog. ^_~

It’s slow going, but super satisfying!

I’m still finding the best amount of ink to use. The first time, I used to too much, and tried watering it down a little. I got the best prints from thicker ink though, and having a lot of ink had some trade-offs. I got better prints, and more prints from one application, but I also got more waste prints at the beginning from the ink squishing around the edges too much. So, the second time I used less ink, and got good prints, but not quite as good, and only one or two prints per application. I need to find the happy medium.

The roller is called a brayer. The more you know!

I did prints on brown paper and some canvas cartridge. I think I liked the brown paper best. I have lots of love for brown paper… brown paper bags, brown paper parcels, ah! I love it all! So, I was really happy with my brown paper prints. I found that I liked the Oz design a lot more when the print wasn’t completely even, and the paper showed through in places with the ink. But, for the Clogs one, I liked it more when the print was very crisp and even.

No Place Like Home, and Clog Lovin’

The canvas was more of a mixed bag. I think it was just a little too textured, and the Clogs design went right up to the edge so it was tricky to line up. I think I’d like to try printing on some other textured materials that aren’t quite as rough, like watercolor paper or something. I still liked them! Just not quite as much.

Click your Silver Clogs three times… (or Ruby Clogs for the movie peeps).

All in all, I’m properly happy with the carvings, but I still have some experimenting to do with the printing process. They’re definitely not Etsy-ready, but hopefully soon. Experimenting is the fun part, so I’m well keen to get on with it!

Meanwhile, I should have a finished sock to show you soon! ^_^

What other kinds of designs would you like to see? Have you done any printing before?

O Hai! I’m Not Dead In A Ditch!

Gentle reader,

It’s been ages since I last posted. I do apologize! I’ve been meaning to get around to do a proper posts but, it just never happened. I’ve been a bit preoccupied. But, I’m back now, and here’s a recap of what’s being going on in my forest.

I did some work, and I played some games.

I finished the bunny sweater (though, I’m going to unpick the sleeves and restitch them, and fix some wonky intarsia bits with duplicate stitch)

I got an amazing parcel from my American Mom, Beth, with a bunch of lovely gifts and some of her beautiful glass work. We’re going to combine her glass pieces and my crochet into… something!

I bought some yarn. Naturally.
L to R: Rowan Colorscape Chunky, Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball, Noro Kogarashi

I got some new shoes. Green, of course.

I did some scribbles. The side two are plans for some lino block prints.

I smooched some cheeky pooses.

Listened to some tunes.
L to R: Emi Hinouchi – “Me”, Midlake – “The Trials of Van Occupanther,
The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”

I did some wandering around Melbs and enjoyed the turn of the season.

Aaaaand, I started some big, chunky bedsocks with the Kogarashi for my friend, Alf!
I’m using the pattern “Thuja” from Knitty.com

Phew! Did you like “My Life In Pictures” recap? Hope so! I’ll be back to posting regularly now. I think I might do more of these – unless raiding my Instagram is cheating… Hmmm…

How have you been!? Catch up in the comments! ^_^